Today marks four years since the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. During that tragic event twenty young children attending the school, and five adults who were working there, were killed. The gunman killed himself as well.
I remember hearing the news late that December morning as I was heading to a meeting in my organization. At that point, little was known, but as more information became available, the enormity of the tragedy hit home.
I remember watching television with my wife after we had put our two year old daughter to bed. It was a sobering evening, filled with many tears from us, and countless tears from people around the world.
Four years later, much has changed, and much has not. Are we safer? Maybe. Have we done enough to prevent these types of tragedies in the future? Probably not. In New York, events like the shootings at Columbine High School and at Sandy Hook Elementary have led to changes in how our state education department supports school safety and collects data on school violence.
And yet, more can be done. There are still plenty of examples of lack of kindness for one another in our schools and across our populace in general, and plenty of examples of learners who feel ostracized, left out, or like they don’t belong.
There are too many levels of politics to delve into regarding gun control, freedom to bear arms, mental health supports, and even, the purpose of our schools. Regardless of where one stands on the political spectrum, the fact remains: innocent people perished that day, for no reason other than because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And that should not sit well for anyone.
We owe it to those we lead to make sure that they are safe. We owe it to those we lead to make sure that they know how to keep those they work with on a daily basis safe. And we owe it to ourselves to make sure that we support the needs of our community to keep safety at a high priority.
Finally, we owe it everyone to reflect and remember tragedies so that we can best avoid them happening again.
While one person can perpetrate a tragedy, the masses allow it to grow if it becomes forgotten.
Whether we are talking the tragedy that happened four years ago in Newtown, or the continued tragedy unfolding in Aleppo, we can only make things better by admitting, and remembering, tragedies for what they are.